Boardroom v Courtroom

You may have seen the media interest around recent reports regarding a former female employee of KPMG US who is filing a $350m class action lawsuit against the firm. I read with interest the opinion of Arvind Hickman, the Editor of the International Accounting Bulletin, in his report about the case.

While this case brings to light that gender equality is still very much a corporate culture issue (certainly not restricted to the accounting profession), I believe it is equally important to recognise that gender imbalances are, albeit slowly, being addressed around the world.

Take our US member firm as an example. More than half of the employees at RSM McGladrey, are female. The firm is also listed in the 2010 Working Mother 100 Best Companies list, and importantly, 37 percent of its female workforce is in a senior management position.

The International Accounting Bulletin's recent coverage of the KPMG US case provides some geographical trends worth sharing:

"Russia has the largest proportion of women at senior level with 37 percent."

"In the UK, only 6 percent of senior positions were held by women in 1998. In 2008 this had grown to 20 percent."

"In South Africa, 29 percent of partners and senior executives are women..."

These statistics are encouraging but there is clearly still a long way to climb on the equality ladder and large question marks on how to tackle this issue. Back in February I wrote a blog post about what impact the Lord Davies Enquiry might have on women taking senior management positions in UK boardrooms. There is global progress on these issues - slow change is better than no change.


Jean M Stephens
Chief Executive Officer